A new retreat ministry for the chronically ill and their caregivers is designed to “let people come to a realization that God hasn’t abandoned them, that they can still find him even in their suffering,” said Deacon Bryan Bush, one of the organizers.
The Maranatha Retreat — similar to the former Gennesaret Retreat, which was held in the Archdiocese of Louisville for two decades — will offer spiritual presentations, small-group sharing, time for meditation and the opportunity to take part in various sacraments.
The archdiocese’s Office of Family Ministries has organized the daylong retreat around the theme “Finding God in all things, even in suffering.” The teachings of St. Ignatius, who taught that God could be found in all things, formed the foundation for the retreat, said Deacon Bush, who will be offering presentations during the retreat along with Deacon Mark Preischel.
The Maranatha Retreat was likened to a reboot of the former Gennesaret Retreat by Deacon Stephen Bowling, director of the Office of Family Ministries.
The mission of the Maranatha Retreat is still to “care for the sick and needy around us” but, he said, he thinks of it as “Gennesaret, the next generation.”
“It’s like a resurrection of something that was good for its time, but needed” some changes, he said during a recent interview.
The retreat, he said, differs from the Gennesaret retreat in two ways: Maranatha is a one-day retreat whereas the Gennesaret program, started by Father Paul Scaglione in 2001, was an overnight. And the Maranatha retreat includes family members who serve as caregivers, said Deacon Bowling.
Maranatha is derived from the Aramaic expression “marana tha” which means “O, Lord, come.” “You’ll come together, but each will hear the things that are relevant to yourself,” said Deacon Bowling.
People living with chronic illness often feel as though they have no purpose, because they may no longer be in the workforce, he said. Maranatha is “putting a stake in the ground and saying ‘everybody has a purpose,’ ” he said.
Chronic illness changes peoples’ lives and they are often in need of hope. The retreat will let them know that “they may have to take this journey, but we as the church are here to remind them they don’t need to walk it alone,” he said.
The retreat provides space for the caregivers because they are often “overworked” and often deal with guilt, Deacon Bowling said, because they feel they can’t fix the situation. The retreat will let them know “they’re not alone and there are communities to support them,” he said.
Father John Burke, a retired priest of the archdiocese, will celebrate Mass at the end of the day and offer the sacrament of anointing of the sick. Participants will also have the opportunity for adoration and confession.
Deacon Bush, who serves at Holy Spirit Church, and Deacon Preischel, who serves at St. Albert the Great Church, will present talks on the following topics:
- “Fear versus trust.” Deacon Bush said this presentation will focus on “helping people understand the fear that comes with being sick is commonplace. The opposite is to have trust in God.” That presentation will be shared with caregivers as well.
- “Beloved of God.” This presentation will aim to let individuals living with chronic illness know that God “has not stopped loving them.” “They can be united with the cross of Christ through suffering,” said Deacon Bush.
- “Walking with God.” This will be offered separately to both those who are ill and caregivers separately. It will focus on ways to find God in everything.
- “Listening with God” will offer some guidance on “how to pray with God, to voice our fears and concerns and in turn listen to what God has to say to us,” Deacon Bush said.
The Maranatha Retreat will be held Nov. 27 at the Flaget Center, 1935 Lewiston Drive, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is free, but registration is required by Nov. 12.
It will be offered to 10 individuals living with chronic illnesses and 10 individuals who serve as caregivers. For more information or to register, contact Denise Puckett in the Family Ministries Office at 636-0296 or by email at email@example.com.